I recently attended the Atlanta zTechU IBM conference and as a first-time conference speaker I thought I would share my thoughts and experiences of the event. I have never been outside of Europe before, so I managed to cross off a lot of firsts with this trip.

The sessions I ran were ‘Introduction to IBM MQ’ and ‘MQ Clustering Deep Dive’ and overall, I believe they went very well. I had some great feedback from the sessions and some interesting discussions regarding the content I had covered with both MQ customers and other IBM employees. I find myself working on MQ Clusters a fair bit in my day job so it was nice to have a topic that I could talk about that I had a good amount of experience in to back me up. I even learnt a few things few things that I was unaware of regarding logging in MQ Clusters in the Q&A section after the session.

In addition, I also ran a poster session on the MQ appliance which I found this to be a nice relaxed way to discuss the content I was delivering to the interested parties. It also helped that my stand was pretty close to the food and drinks!

Taking full advantage of the other sessions running at the conference I endeavored to attend as many as possible to expand my knowledge of other IBM products as well as other technologies being developed by business partners. Some of favorite ones included discussions on the following:

– Discussions on how IBM’s Quantum research is going, the technology involved is simply incredible, one fact I like is the fact that the quantum bits have to be kept at 0.15 kelvin to operate. You can now even gain access to live Quantum computers that are in IBM Quantum sites and have a play! https://www.research.ibm.com/ibm-q/

– How the new z14 mainframe with its pervasive encryption techniques could potentially be susceptible to ransomware attacks making it especially important to store your encryption keys securely! https://www.ibm.com/it-infrastructure/z/technologies/pervasive-encryption

We did manage to not stay entirely confined to the hotel and conference center and explore our surroundings. After a short wander around our immediate surroundings we found an impromptu soul music concert in one of the green spaces. On one of our days off we visited the Coca Cola museum and were treated to every flavor of Cola that has ever been produced – this wasn’t the healthiest day I have had.

As part of the conference we were taken for an evening out at the Mercedes Benz Stadium which was simply incredible. IBM had the entire stadium booked out and there was a big spread of all different kinds of food on the pitch to munch on alongside games and music.

I’ll conclude by saying that the experience was definitely unique and very enjoyable. I put a lot of work into preparing and delivering the sessions I ran, and I am glad that they were well received. I will definitely be attending future conferences where I can and look forward to meeting more MQ and IBM customers.

Extra thanks to Mayur Raja who went with me and as an experienced conference goer helped me out from preparing the content for the sessions to the basics of booking the flights.

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